Jon Gruden: Power Ranking the Best Fits for Former Head Coach
Another offseason is here for 20 NFL teams, which means former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden is likely to be mentioned among many of the seven current head-coaching openings.
Seasoned NFL fans have been down this road during most offseasons since 2008, the last year Gruden had a coaching job. He's been in the announcing booth at ESPN since.
However, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Tuesday that there may be some substance to the Gruden-to-Team-X rumors this offseason.
Appearing on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning, Mortensen said to "watch" Gruden for a head-coaching job (via Pro Football Talk):
I have to say, we all have to watch our Jon Gruden — ESPN’s Jon Gruden. It makes everybody at ESPN nervous when we say that, but we haven’t heard one way or the other. He is very happy at ESPN, but we know that he is on the tip of a lot of tongues with NFL people.
Nothing concrete has been reported yet, but there are fits available for Gruden's services. In the following slides, we'll power rank the best fits for the former head coach.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
A former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia under Ray Rhodes, Gruden might be enticed by a job he likely wanted while on the Eagles staff. Now that Andy Reid is out of the picture, Gruden makes sense for owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Another important factor to consider: Gruden loves Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who will be in the running to start in 2013. Before the 2012 NFL draft, Gruden hosted Foles on his QB Camp series on ESPN and raved about the former Wildcat's size and pre-snap reads. If Lurie wants Gruden, he might be tempted to coach a quarterback he likes.
3. Cleveland Browns
Gruden has been a big winner when leading veteran clubs, but the Browns are one of the younger teams in football.
However, Gruden is from Sandusky, OH and he played college football at nearby University of Dayton. The geographical fit for Gruden couldn't be better.
Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland noted that Gruden was also a childhood fan of the Browns, which may be the push he needs to get out of the comfortable announcing chair. Grossi also listed Gruden, 49, in his top rung of coaching candidates linked to the Browns this offseason. It's an interesting fit.
2. San Diego Chargers
In Oakland, Gruden won 38 games and made two trips to the playoffs with veteran quarterback Rich Gannon. In Tampa Bay, Gruden won 57 games, made three trips to the playoffs and won a Super Bowl with veteran quarterback Brad Johnson.
The Chargers have an attractive opening, with a veteran quarterback who once was on the edge of being an elite player at his position. That quarterback is Philip Rivers, who has a 94.5 career passer rating but needs to be rejuvenated after back-to-back average seasons.
Gruden can win with Rivers. Rivers can win with a coach like Gruden. It seems like a perfect match, if the Chargers have an interest.
1. Chicago Bears
There is no better fit for Jon Gruden than in Chicago.
Stop me if this sounds familiar. The Bears just fired Lovie Smith, who was a successful coach but one who couldn't get all the pieces together season after season. He leaves behind a potentially elite defense and an offense that has a quarterback in place but needs an offensive mind to help turn around.
Does the situation in Chicago sound anything like the one Gruden inherited in Tampa Bay? If there's one place Gruden can go to and win right away, it's with the Bears. Maybe the real question here is if Chicago has any real interest in giving Gruden that chance.